A preshow latte
with Jesse Michaels
of Classics of Love

Classics of Love frontman Jesse Michaels is a few hours away from playing a sold-out show at Black Cat with Bomb the Music Industry and Mike Park. I meet up with him at the obnoxiously loud Starbucks around the corner, with the hope that this crap tape recorder picks up his soothingly measured voice and omits my incoherent, nervous stuttering.

It turns out this tape recorder is amazing, perhaps even magical! I can even hear the noise of my angry glares at the barista as he blares the frappaccino machine. Everyone who needs to conduct an interview and doesn’t trust electronic devices, buy this tape recorder. It is Jesse Michaels-approved. He even reassures me several times before we start that it is a great machine, and he actually uses the same model.

Michaels has a contagiously laid-back demeanor I can only describe as Berkeleyan Serenity. He says he has just sampled the infamous Ben’s Chili Bowl. A great choice for lovers of junk food, perhaps not so great when you are hours away from jumping around the stage while sweating and screaming into a mic. I feel slightly guilty for the recommendation, but roll the tape and quickly ask what he likes to listen to on the road.

The Oakland based artist has an easy smile and wields a healthy amount of sarcasm with confident delivery. “I like it to be absolutely silent.” He laughs, “I encourage everyone not to talk or make any sound whatsoever.” Stand up dude! Super nice! Just don’t make any noise while he’s at work.

He is a fan of hot showers and beds, goes to school full-time and works, therefore touring is not high on his list of priorities. So the three East Coast shows were mainly that of convenience. “We decided to go with them (Bomb The Music Industry) because they have a pretty solid draw, their fans tend to like us, there seems to be a certain percentage of people who come to see them that know us.”

Unfortunately for the DC show-goers, Classics of Love were already sold out of all their merch, including the 13-track LP that came out February 14th on Asian Man Records. The record gets straight to the point. It’s a barrage of classic, politically charged punk leaning towards a hardcore sound with nods to indie and even reggae influences.

“I only brought in one song to the engineer because we wanted it to have an old-fashioned feel but not to be lo-fi. So I brought in a song by Articles of Faith, because I always liked their production. It’s not what some people might call technically good production, but it just sounds great—sounds very atmospheric, has a dark, reverby Chicago sound.”

If we fast forward a few hours, Classics of Love takes the stage after an acoustic set by label manager Mike Park. Michaels has got energy and the gut-wrenching screams that are familiar to any Op Ivy fan, but the quartet mixes it up with gang vocal harmonies and even ska-influenced bridges.

Although he’s doing homework now, which might be pissing him off, Michaels has a something of a pre-show process. “Usually I get into this ultra-negative space before we play. Then once we start playing, it turns into a different kind of energy, and it all works out.”

The pit goes slightly mad up front, even singing along to the opening song “Gun Show.” Michaels explains that the dynamic between audience and artist must be authentic. “If the crowd is bored, then it’s almost impossible to get through the set. I feel like doing anything but being there, but if they’re into it, it’s very automatic.”

The band planned to release the record on all formats from the start. I ask what Michaels thinks about the re-emergence of vinyl as a relevant and perhaps even preferred platform. Is it a trend?

Whatever it is, he is glad it’s happening. “…[B]ecause I grew up listening to vinyl, and I like the way it looks, I like the art. But also very practically speaking, it’s a way that bands can actually make a little money. And I’m not even talking about like paying the mortgage, but to just sort of get by.” It’s good for bands, he says, “because obviously you can’t download a physical object.”

Classics of Love’s self-titled LP is available to stream online or order.

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